Poetry is often viewed as a respite from the noise and violence of the “real world.” A podcast that paused to lament the anti-intellectual culture of American politics talked of a book of poetry at a president’s bedside in the same breath as vacation and exercise. These things are necessary, or productive even, but not of the same world.
Not so Amy Sara Carroll’s Fannie + Freddie: The Sentimentality of Post-9/11 Pornography, the second poetry collection from the University of Michigan assistant professor. Winner of the 2011-2012 Poets Out Loud Prize, selected and with a foreword by Claudia Rankine, the collection’s layered hybrid texts slam the reader into a cacophony of strike-throughs, images of text, overlapping letters, and repetition that mirrors the information barrage of contemporary Western culture.
Yet Fannie + Freddie is not the buzz of a neon sign. It has a body, which breathes and talks but perhaps more importantly struggles to reproduce itself and maintain its autonomy. It ovulates and watches TV sometimes:
Is this my mini-epiphany regarding an ethics of listening, a poetics of has something to do with the sea-cum we are all swimming through. I ask myself, What leaves you the radio, the computer, the television, after I am force-fed a barrage of reported carnage.
Carroll’s language reflects the competing systems that form a mind: the rarified language of an academic ripping at the softness of borrowed lyrics; the analytical harshness of medical diagnoses interrupt the soft grunt of the breastfeeding mother. Subprime mortgages covered with bodily discharges. And throughout it all, media, media, media. Interruptions of interruptions:
Be careful what you wish for. A penny for your thoughts. I know not what I’ve done. Meanwhile, back at the split-level ranch, the gravity of the situation eludes elucidation. You got peanut butter in my chocolate! (Some Coke-laced memento experiment, boy-meets-girl skin flick.) Like cutting teeth, it’s a re-release, Don’t bite the breast that feeds you.
The result is a tangling of the domestic and political, a critical burning light turned on the intersections of events a world away with events in your own bedroom, events from which the reader cannot escape or even look away. Carroll’s text listens, even when the sounds and signs can no longer be processed, only catalogued, lovingly shelved next to each other for the archeologist of our wreckage.